Facebook is the most popular social network out there but its place in the fast changing social landscape its place on top is not permanent. Here we analyse why Facebook’s influence will diminish over time and it will fade away in near future.
Reason 1 : Facebook will not be “cool” anymore
One major reason for Facebook to go down will be the same reason why some of it’s rivals like Myspace and Friendster fell. I will call it the next generation effect. In 2006 being on Myspace was “Cool” but in 2008 that “coolness” was associated with Facebook. This change in perception is more pronounced by a generation change. A college graduate signs up on Facebook. Initially he will typically spend many hours on the Facebook but this time spent will come down gradually as he moves to new things in life. By the time the next generation readies to sign up for a social network, Facebook will no longer be fashionable to use unless it changes drastically with changing demographics. Those young birds may not be inclined to use the same social network as used by their parents. Eventually their quest for a more private space will take them elsewhere. This will happen to a whole generation of young people and when that happens Facebook will fade just like Myspace.
In 2011 as per Facebook demographics data, more than 50% of Facebook users were in the age group 18-34 years. This is the chunk of people I am talking about who will eventually move on, so that average user interaction with Facebook will come down. Also, the next generation (supposed to replace the existing mass user base) will switch to some other more fashionable social service creating a vacuum and Facebook will likely be trapped dead in this vicious cycle.
This so called fashion trend is evident in other spheres of technology as well. Just think how it is more fashionable to be carrying a Samsung mobile than a Nokia now. Same logic may apply to social networking as well.
Of course this will happen subject to the emergence of a new better designed and promoted social networking service.
Reason 2 : The Flat Revenue Cycle
Facebook makes a lot of money in Ad revenue and credits. But this model has its own problems. First, It clutters Facebook’s user interface increasing user dissatisfaction. Second, it damages user’s perception of privacy and trust on Facebook when they see targeted personalized ads.Third, all those games, events, causes etc. are slowly transforming Facebook from a friends only network to a promotional monster. So much promotional content on user profile, wall and newsfeed eventually tire down users. Yes there are ways to control all this through privacy settings but if you have to spend so much of effort to control things it takes the fun out of visiting Facebook in the first place. So again it is a vicious cycle.
More Ads = More revenue but More clutter = Frustrated users = User migration
Less Ads =Loss of revenue = Unsustainable business model = Performance problems = User migration.
I suspect this will cause users to switch to a new less profit centric service eventually contributing to the death of Facebook.
Reason 3 : Emergence of niche social networks
Facebook is primarily a generalized social network. However, it also provides tools and means to get social with niche groups like those of artists, music bands, professionals etc. In short it is a social netwok trying to be everything to everyone. This strategy may prove to be counter productive as the users become more tech savvy and more selective about social networking. Slowly they will move to smaller, more focused networks catering to their interests and passions. A glimpse of this phenomena is already visible in the form of niche social networks like Linkedin (for professional and business interests), and Care2 ( For people who care. a site like Facebook Causes) etc. Even Myspace has re-positioned itself as an entertainment and music hub focusing on artists. These smaller niche networks give more tools and features geared towards their target user base. For example, Myspace now provides excellent tools to artists to socialize among their peers and share their content. Facebook has to do the same kind of re-positioning or it will die. But that repositioning will be a forced one as, right now, when the going is good, Facebook can not think of doing much changes to its structure. This may actually annoy the users and actually quicken the fall. But what kind of niche social network will Facebook become? Only time will tell.
As I write this, there are some indications that Facebook user satisfaction is diminishing in US. That may be an indication of things to come. I think the actual reason of death of Facebook will be a lethal combination of the above three factors coupled with emergence of viable Facebook alternatives. It will be interesting to see how Facebook addresses these issues and how it fares.
Are you a Facebook user? Do you agree that Facebook will fade away with time? We will love to hear you on this in comments below!!
This post was originally published on Indigic.com